Results from the midterm elections offer some of the clearest proof yet that in states around the country, the NRA is increasingly politically toxic. In many places, politicians who once relied on the NRA for support are now realizing that the organization has become a scarlet letter. Nowhere is this more clear than in Nevada.
In 2016, voters in Nevada passed an Everytown-backed ballot initiative to close the background check loophole in the state. But, A+ NRA rated Attorney General Adam Laxalt – who had appeared in an NRA ad opposing the initiative – argued he could not enforce it, subverting the will of his state’s residents, 68 percent of whom want to see the background check law implemented. Laxalt has long been an NRA favorite, and, in 2017, he spoke at the NRA convention.
Last night, Laxalt lost the race for governor to Steve Sisolak, a gun safety champion who spoke out repeatedly about gun violence prevention on the campaign trail and made gun safety part of his campaign platform. Sisolak wasn’t the only NRA darling defeated by a gun sense candidate last night. Kris Kobach (Kansas – governor), Bill Schuette (Michigan – governor), Steve Pearce (New Mexico – governor), Jeff Johnson (Minnesota – governor), Barbara Comstock (Virginia – U.S. House), Mike Coffman (Colorado – U.S. House), Wes Duncan (Nevada – attorney general) and Tom Leonard (Michigan – attorney general) all had A or A+ ratings from the NRA, and all of them lost.
The midterm election results are hardly the first indication that the NRA is no longer a political kingmaker. In fact, the organization’s waning popularity has come into focus in the past several months:
- Pre-election polling showed voters feel that the NRA has too much influence over elected officials. Furthermore, when voters learn that a candidate has accepted contributions from the NRA, it makes them less likely to support that candidate by a two-to-one margin.
- Democrats and Republicans, once proud recipients of NRA contributions, shunned their support this year. Six high-profile Republican congressional candidates, including several in extremely tight races, either returned or did not deposit recent contributions from the NRA. Additionally, Democrats like Minnesota Governor-elect Tim Walz and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan donated their past contributions from the NRA to other organizations, including Everytown. Perhaps that’s why the NRA has been forced to do a disappearing act this cycle, spending far less on the elections than they have in years past.
- Thirty days prior to Election Day, the NRA created a new letter grade that seemed to acknowledge just how many candidates are embracing the need for gun violence prevention policies. The organization reserved the new grade – “Fx” – for candidates who were supported by Everytown and Moms Demand Action. Almost immediately, candidates began proudly displaying the Fx rating as a badge of honor.
- This cycle, the NRA scrubbed a database of past candidate ratings from its website acknowledging, “our enemies were using that.” Everytown quickly compiled and reposted more than 60,000 grades stretching back to 2009.
- Earlier this year, a poll by NBC/Wall Street Journal found that the NRA’s favorability ratings are underwater for the first time since 2000.
Politicians aren’t the only ones distancing themselves from the NRA. Corporations including Delta, United and Hertz have recently cut ties with the organization, ending discount programs for NRA members. Increasingly, businesses are realizing that relationships with the NRA no longer make financial sense, just like politicians are realizing that gun lobby support is no longer a win with voters.